Lions’ Kerby Joesph embraces ‘villain’ role after ‘dirty’ accusation

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS



Lions defensive back Kerby Joesph has been in this position before.

The second-year safety said he won’t change the way he plays after facing backlash for a hit on Rams tight end Tyler Higbee, who suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee on the play, in Sunday’s wild-card loss in Detroit.

“I’m cool,” Joseph told the Detriot Free Press on Wednesday. “I’m used to being the villain.”

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford called Joseph “dirty as f–k” after his hit on Higbee to break up a pass over the middle in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s 24-23 win.

Joseph reportedly received worse messages than Stafford’s, on social media, but claimed he wasn’t fazed by the criticism.

The Illinois product also faced vitriol for a separate hit that resulted in Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson suffering a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in the Lions’ NFC North-clinching win over the Vikings on Christmas Eve.

“People are going to say what they say,” Joseph, a former teammate of Hockenson’s with the Lions, said. “I’m just here to do my job.”

Joseph insisted he did not intend to hurt anyone and wouldn’t discuss the hits further, adding that he “just wanted to go make a tackle, really.”

Stafford, who was mic’d up during the wild-card game when the hit occurred, walked over to Joseph and ripped him after the play.

“That’s a good hit, (but) you’re dirty as f–k though, and you know it,” Stafford told Joseph on the field. “You’re dirty as f–k. It’s been on tape. I’ve seen it. Hey, it’s been on tape.”

Tyler Higbee #89 of the Los Angeles Rams is hit by Kerby Joseph #31 of the Detroit Lions during the second half in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs at Ford Field on January 14, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan.
Getty Images

Rams head coach Sean McVay said Higbee will have surgery on his right knee to repair the torn ACL and MCL.

Joseph explained that he wasn’t sure if Stafford was upset with him about the hit or the celebration he carried out afterward — when he got up, flexed and high-fived his teammate, Lions defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike.

“To be honest, I don’t really know [why Stafford was mad],” Joseph said. “It was the quickest thing, so I don’t even know what his intentions was, for real. On the celebration part, I wasn’t celebrating that I hurt him.

Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams scrambles with the ball during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs at Ford Field on January 14, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan.
Getty Images

“I kind of didn’t really peep that he was hurt, for real. But like I said, prayers out to that boy and his family. Like the game we play, just stuff happens.”

Lions coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn also defended Joseph’s play.

“That’s how we play football here,” Campbell said. “Just keep your head up, see what you hit. That’ll always be what I tell Kerby.

“He’s going for the thigh board and staying away from the head. That’s how we play defense here. It’s not dirty. We hit.”

Glenn explained the Lions aren’t worried about the outside noise.

“Kerby plays football, and we are going to continue to play football,” Glenn said. “We don’t care what anybody else has to say.”

Kerby said he was praying for Higbee after the hit. 

“ALL SERIOUSNESS…. THIS GAME WE PLAY IS VERY DANGEROUS,” he wrote in a post on X after the game. “I’m praying for bro and his family I don’t have no intention to hurt no body and or harm their career I been a mf dog since I came out my mama womb and nun of y’all on here gone take that away from me.” 

Tyler Higbee #89 of the Los Angeles Rams is hit by Kerby Joseph #31 of the Detroit Lions during the second half in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs at Ford Field on January 14, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. Getty Images

A third-round pick (97th overall) by Detroit in the 2022 NFL draft, Joseph has 163 tackles and eight interceptions in his career.

The Lions host the Buccaneers in the divisional round on Sunday at 3 p.m.





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